Fitzroy Homework Support Program gets top marks

Thursday, 25 November 2010

3 November 2010: The Homework Support Program - run for children from refugee and disadvantaged backgrounds in Fitzroy - will receive $100,000 after winning the Schools First State Impact Award.

More than 100 local primary school children meet at the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate every week for one-on-one or group help with their homework – which promotes literacy, numeracy and social connection.

The Vietnamese Mothers Group (VMG) founded the project, which is now a joint collaboration.

The VMG bring their local knowledge and understanding of the refugee experience. They are responsible for enrolments, community interpreters and the logistical aspects. Australian Catholic University (ACU) provides capacity through resources and pre-service teachers, The Smith Family co-ordinates the partnership, liaises with families and offers further educational opportunities,  and Sacred Heart School Fitzroy sets the learning agenda.

Mary Campbell, Relations Coordinator for ACU’s Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, said the majority of the children have Vietnamese, Chinese, or Horn of Africa backgrounds, and speak 15 different languages.

“The Homework Support Program is the tangible reality of a pathway to social inclusion through education, and aligns with ACU’s mission statement of justice and equity,” she said.

“The Program grew from the VMG responding to a community need and inviting other stakeholders to share in the responsibility, and each partner is ready to share, work collaboratively and bring different gifts to the table.

“The Homework Support Program is more than capacity building, it brings about hope for a better future, and reflects the true understanding of community engagement.”

Volunteering with the homework program has been compulsory for all ACU third year teaching students since 2008.

Schools First judges said the homework club had beaten more than 880 applications for the award, and it was “an excellent program that captures the essence of community-shared expertise.”

The Program is now in contention for a further $400,000 if named as National Award Winner at a ceremony in Sydney on 26 November.

Homework Support Program student Aiysha Homework Support Program student Aiysha. Photo: Sara Coen